Shaw National Alumni President Announces Support for “A Call to Colors” – GDN Exclusive Part XIXby Cash Michaels, GDN contributing writer September 26, 2018
Vote like a Bear!
Yes, there is some apathy on the part of students attending historically black universities and colleges [HBCUs] around the country, and in North Carolina, regarding the need for them to be registered to vote, following the issues, and then casting their ballots on Election Day.
But that’s because the critical issues that affect them, their futures, and the very existence of their schools, are not being made clear to them, says Ms. Ayoka Gay, President of the National Alumni Association of Shaw University.
“I think we have a responsibility to make the issues clear to them, even though they may feel that the issues don’t affect them,” Ms. Gay, a 2002 Shaw alumna, and a supporter of GDN’s “A Call to Colors” campaign, told Greater Diversity News in a phone interview recently.
“[Some students may think that the issues are] too high level, or a little too complex that they can’t see themselves in them. We have a responsibility to show them [that those issues do impact them], they impact everyone, whether you’re someone who is well into your adulthood, or a college student.”
Ms. Gay, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., continued, “You talk about several bills that are on the table that impact financing higher education, impact their ability to take out loans, pay their tuition…there are all kinds of things that impact them.”
Gay added that there is a student voter registration drive on Shaw’s campus the last week in September, just in time to get students properly registered to vote in this November’s crucial mid-term elections.
In a related activity, the Pitt County Chapter of Shaw University National Alumni Association and GDN are planning “A Call to Colors” voter education, registration and mobilization campaign for the upcoming election.
“I think it’s absolutely essential, and not just for HBCUs, but for HBCU students in particular, because we are underrepresented,” Gay maintained. “So we have to make a concerted effort to make sure that our voices are heard for all of the issues, particularly those that impact higher education, and what will ultimately impact our communities and how they work, where they work, their ability to work, and how that affects their families.”
Ms. Gay is currently a product manager for an IT company, and she credits Shaw for preparing her with the relevant computer courses and experiences that have enabled her to grow and succeed in her field.
A proposal to the National Historically Black College and University Alumni Association Foundation (NHBCUAAF) (www.nhbcuaaf.org) from GDN publisher Peter Grear (class’66 , Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Fayetteville State University) recommends that “…all alumni associations, at all levels, create standing committees for non-partisan civic engagement. They would ask their members to volunteer 8, 16, 24 hours or more per election cycle to help mobilize Black voter participation. Activities could include making telephone calls, Facebook posting, door knocking, organizing churches or other community-based organizations, Greek organizations, working polls, supporting the NAACP and others more. They should urge all HBCU students to make similar civic engagement pledges on their campuses.”
NHBCUAAF has adopted GDN’s “A Call to Colors” HBCU student civic engagement registration campaign.
GDN further recommends that alumni associations urge all HBCU Student Government Associations (SGAs) to make similar civic engagement pledges. SGAs should have twice a year student rallies promoting civic engagement and student organizations. “A Call to Colors” is a suggestion that appeals to student and HBCU Alumni members sense of community responsibility. Supporters are urged to subscribe to GDN’s free eNews to remain current with ongoing developments.
Ms Ayoka Gay joins Richard D. Smith, NHBCUAAF Vice President for Strategic Development; Christy Bryant, President of J.C. Smith University National Alumni Association; Gwendolyn Mackle Rice, President of Bennett College for Women’s National Alumna Association; Bennett College President, Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins; Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, President of Livingstone; Dr. Everett Ward, President of St. Augustine’s University; Warren Arrington, President of the Livingstone College National Alumni Association; Dr. John Larkins, President of St. Augustine’s University National Alumni Association; Raymond Privott, past-President of Fayetteville State University’s National Alumni Association; Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1); Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12); NC Secretary of Veteran Affairs Larry Hall; Reverend, Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the NCNAACP; newly appointed State Senator Milton “Toby” Fitch, who is also “Most Worshipful Grand Master State of NC and Jurisdiction of the Prince Hall Mason Lodge; Dr. Lavonia Allison, former Chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People; Charles Warren, Chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus; N. Carnell Robinson, past Chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus; Andrea Harris, Senior Fellow of the Durham-based Self-Help Credit Union; John C. Easterling III, President of the College Democrats of North Carolina and Robert Stephens, Founder of the HBCU Collective, in endorsing “A Call to Colors” Civic Engagement Campaign.
“A Call to Colors” campaign is working to formally engage with the Pan-Hellenic Councils, the NCNAACP, the NC Black Leadership Caucus, the Prince Hall Masons and the Eastern Star, among others, to support the effort.